Amazon Preparing to Infiltrate the Last Bastion of Traditional Pay-TV (AMZN)

Cable sports channels beware; the e-commerce giant Is coming for you!

Amazon AMZN

Streaming media content over the internet is a hot market right now with online retail giant Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) emerging as one of the leaders in the field. Now, it seems that Seattle is just not content with streaming movies and TV shows; apparently, the company wants to stream sporting events as well.

A WSJ report suggests that Amazon is in talks with some of the top US sports leagues like the NBA, NFL and MLB, among others, with the hopes of being able to secure deals with them. This is obviously in line with the recent launch of the company’s Prime streaming program to over 200 countries, a move aimed at going head-to-head with Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX). For $99 a year, Amazon promises to provide subscribers with premium media streaming services. Being able to acquire streaming deals from these popular sports leagues will surely be very helpful in making the Prime subscription a very attractive option.

This move is not completely unexpected though, as Amazon has been very aggressive with regards to acquiring or developing high quality, original shows to include in its media streaming portfolio. An example is the hit The Grand Tour, which stars former presenters of BBC’s car show Top Gear. Apparently, the streaming service paid a great deal of money to acquire rights to the show, and it seems that this is paying off.  The first episode broke Amazon’s streaming records, and has caused a massive spike in Prime subscriptions in the days leading to the show’s premiere. If anything, this is an indication that the online retailer is very much willing to use its vast resources to acquire shows for its subscribers, and that sports deals are the next target.

The problem however, is that getting these sports streaming deals is not just a question of how much they cost. Instead, the company’s biggest obstacle to acquiring rights is that a lot of the big sporting leagues have already inked deals with TV networks. For example, the NBA has a TV deal with ESPN and TNT until the 2024 season. Fox, ESPN and other networks have deals with the NFL over the next 10 years or so.

Despite these technicalities, the Seattle-based company seems willing to take what it can get. Amazon executives have apparently engaged in talks with TV networks regarding sports rights that they are not using. Reports also indicate that Amazon is in talks with international sports leagues to acquire streaming rights to their live games.  Niche sports are also targets for Amazon, as there have been talks about the company being in negotiation for rights to sports such as Lacrosse, Russian hockey, Mexican football and many more.

Also, WSJ sources say that Amazon is really preparing itself for future buying sporting rights. Meaning, when existing deals between sports leagues and TV networks expire, it can be expected that the company will be one of the front-runners for exclusive, premium rights.

If Amazon is indeed able to acquire streaming rights to live games then TV networks have every right to be worried. This can be the push for a lot of people to abandon their traditional cable subscriptions in favor of the more convenient, on-demand media streaming service.

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